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Health and fire risks as temperatures climb on Westside

Southland temperatures will climb above normal today as a heat wave grips the region, creating “elevated fire danger” and serious health risks for such vulnerable residents as children and the elderly.

The temperature climb that began Wednesday will continue today, Friday
and through the weekend, with the “hottest conditions” expected Saturday and
Sunday, when inland temperatures will be between 5 and 10 degrees above normal,
said a National Weather Service statement.

“During this time, maximum temperatures for the inland coastal areas
will range from 85-99 degrees, while the valleys and the desert will be 100-107
degrees,” the statement said.

Today’s highs were expected to be in the low 90s in downtown L.A. and
the low 100s in the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys.

“The hot conditions will result in an increased risk of heat-related
illnesses, especially for the homeless, elderly, infants, outdoor workers and
those participating in outdoor activities. The extended period of hot and dry
conditions will also bring elevated fire danger,” said the statement.

But no immediate red flag warnings were expected, given the absence of
strong winds and exceedingly low humidity, forecasters said.
Humidity was a healthy 55 percent in Burbank after midnight though
likely to fall to between 10 and 20 percent in the region during the day today,
NWS meteorologist Dave Bruno said in a telephone interview from his monitoring
station in Oxnard.

And no strong winds were immediately expected, except in the Antelope
Valley, the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway corridor, and Santa Barbara county, he

The heat wave, resulting from high pressure over the region, will show
signs of retreat on Monday, but “temperatures will remain above normal in most
places,” followed by more cooling on Tuesday, the NWS statement said.
In the meantime, area residents should take steps to protect themselves
from the potentially harmful conditions, urged the NWS, stressing that
children, the elderly and pets should never be left in parked vehicles in the
heat. A graphic on an NWS website indicated that if the outside temperature is
80 degrees Fahrenheit, it can climb to 99 inside a parked vehicle within 10

The NWS also issued these recommendations:
— drink plenty of water;
— wear light-colored and lightweight clothing;
— stay out of the midday sun;
— provide shade and water for livestock and pets;
— check on neighbors and the elderly.

The recommendation to check on people who could be vulnerable appeared
particularly pressing, given the tragedy in France in 2003, when a heat wave
killed more than 14,800 people, mostly the elderly, many with relatives away on

Reflecting current Southland conditions, the Los Angeles County
Department of Public Health declared a heat alert for the San Fernando and
eastern San Gabriel valleys.

“When temperatures are high, even a few hours of exertion may cause
severe dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke,” said Dr.
Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county’s interim health officer. “Others who are
frail or have chronic health conditions may develop serious health problems
leading to death if they are exposed to high temperatures over several days.”

County officials also urged people with no access to air conditioners to
take advantage of cooling centers to escape the heat. A list of cooling
centers is available online at

Utilities, meanwhile, urged residents to conserve energy. Officials at
the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said customers should especially
try to cut back on power use between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

“During times of extreme heat, we strongly encourage customers to
conserve energy wherever possible as long as it does not jeopardize anyone’s
own health or safety or the health and safety of their pets,” DWP General
Manager Marcie Edwards said.

DWP officials said they expect power demand to be about 5,200 megawatts
in the city of Los Angeles today, compared to the usual summer average of 4,700

To help conserve energy, DWP officials recommended:
— adjusting thermostats to 78 degrees;
— limiting the use of appliances such as washing machines and
dishwashers during peak hours;
— closing drapes and blinds;
— turning off lights in rooms not being used;
— unplugging devices that can use energy even when they’re not being
used, such as cell phone chargers, DVD players and microwave ovens; and
— ventilating homes by opening windows and doors to allow cooler air to

The NWS forecast sunny skies today and highs of 76 in San Clemente; 79
in Laguna Beach; 80 in Newport Beach; 81 at LAX; 82 in Avalon; 91 in Long
Beach, downtown L.A. and on Mount Wilson; 92 in Anaheim and Irvine; 94 in
Fullerton and Mission Viejo; 96 in Yorba Linda; 99 in San Gabriel; 100 in
Burbank and Palmdale; 101 in Lancaster; 102 in Pasadena; 104 in Saugus; and 105
in Woodland Hills. Similar temperatures are expected Friday.

Article Name
Health and fire risks as temperatures climb on the Westside
Southland temperatures will climb above normal today as a heat wave grips the region, creating ``elevated fire danger'' and serious health risks for such vulnerable residents as children and the elderly.

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